06 September 2015

the Goblin King

Many years ago, when faeries still flitted in pollen-filled groves and elves walked freely without fear of human discovery, there was a town built on a wooded hill said to be the remnant of an ancient giant burial-mound. The woods were a dangerous place, filled with mischievous goblins, restless spirits, greedy changelings, voracious wolves and territorial ogres. But, for all the dangers of the place, beneath the hill was a vein of gold that was the envy of even dverg. It was this gold, and the greed inherent in all humans that brought them to the region. At the centre of this wealthy town stood a great citadel, and in the highest spire of that slender citadel was a bell, magically enchanted to chime on the hour, thus warding the town from the boggarts and trolls that haunted the woods. And for many years, all was well; the town grew prosperous and over time spilled over the hill into the valleys beyond. The people of the town went about their daily rituals – the men mining, the women caring for their homes and children.

But it was not to last

An evil goblin king, heir to a thousand blackened knives and master to all the wicked fey that filled the forest, rose to power. Furious by the magical bell that he blamed on his impoverished and famished subjects, he visited a wretched boggart witch who told him that the Blood Moon was ascendant, and the star of the beast was shining at its brightest. The time of the goblins had come, and it was written in the stars that the bell would stop chiming and the town would become theirs. But, the boggart witch explained to the goblin king, if he were to attack the humans with his army while the Bell still tolled, he would be killed. So another, more cunning plan had to be devised.

The tale of the Lord’s daughter was well known in the surrounding lands, and even the goblins knew of her beauty and, some might say, naiveté. The goblin king, disguised as a young princeling, visited the princess and courted her. She fell in love with him and he tricked her into lifting the enchantment on the bell tower, thus enabling the goblin army to attack.

And attack it did. The town was destroyed, its riches stolen, its maidens taken prisoner, its men slaughtered, and its children taken as slaves. Within a few days, nothing was left of the town save the sundered bricks and charred logs of its once proud buildings lying strewn around the hilltop.

And so the goblin king came to rule.

Days turned into months, and the woods reclaimed the town, vines and creepers claiming each and every fallen stone and boulder as their own, wrapping their verdant claws around what little remained of the town. Months turned into years. A dark influence overcame the wood, urging it to grow thicker, wider, denser, than ever before. Boughs grew great poisoned thorns to ward off intruders. Trees grew crooked, their branches and skin twisted into shapes eerily reminiscent of leering faces and groping hands. Perhaps it was the death that had claimed the town, or the blood spilt on its soil, or the growing influence of the Atramenta, but whatever it was had corrupted the forest into a labyrinth of verdant death. In that forest did the goblin kingdom breath its last, for it too was claimed by the ravenous trees, until finally, only the goblin king remained, sitting melancholically on his throne, wishing nothing but spite upon the world around him.

But the world had seen too much death to let things lie as they were. The day the goblin king breathed his last the crumbling bell tower was restored to life, held together by the same vines that until the previous day were tearing it apart. And so did the bell chime once more, keeping the land safe from the growing wickedness.

Only, there was no-one to keep safe...

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